Biography of Hon. George M. Hanson
Lake County, CA Biographies





HANSON, HON. GEORGE M. (deceased.) The life of this gentleman was a long and eventful one. His California history is familiar to many of the first immigrants to this State. As he was not only one of the early immigrants to this coast, but also a pioneer of the Clear Lake region, we cannot give a complete chronicle of the early history of Lake County without the assistance of Mr. Hanson's experiences here. George K Hanson, whose portrait will be found in the body of this work, was born in Tazewell County, Virginia, March 13, 1799. In the year 1819 he married Miss Polly Ellington, at Lebanon, Russell County, Virginia, and became the father of seven sons and three daughters, all of whom reached the age of maturity, and six of whom survive him. His oldest and only living daughter is Elizabeth, the wife of Captain J. G. Allender, of Watsonville. His sons now living are, William P., an early settler of this county, now a resident of Willows, Colusa County; Nathan E., James Francis, Daniel A. and David M., all of whom are at present and for many years have been living among the scenes of Clear Lake. For twenty six years Frank has lived on his present ranch at the head of Long Valley. Two years after his marriage the subject of this sketch moved to Kentucky and engaged in the mercantile business for a short time; thence he emigrated to Clark County, Illinois, at that time a wild, unsettled country, and there lived for twenty five years, much of that time being spent in public life. Being a man of exemplary habits and scrupulous integrity, his worth was soon recognized in his community, and he was directly called to serve as a legislator. He soon became prominent, and was regarded by all as one of the leading men in the halls of legislation. He served twelve consecutive years in the House and Senate of Illinois, and was intimately acquainted and associated with the men who subsequently became so famous in the history of that State and of the nation. He was in the Senate of Illinois at the time Abraham Lincoln made his first appearance as a legislator, and his reminiscences of the Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas of that day were of peculiar interest. During the year 1847 Mr. Hanson visited Texas, and traveled all over that State on a tour of inspection with the view of moving there and making a permanent settlement should the country suit him. Not being favorably impressed with it, however, he returned home, and the following year began preparations for a trip across the continent with his family, having then in view the territory of Oregon, which country at that time was attracting considerable attention. Before he started, however, the news of the discovery of gold in California came and changed his plans. In April, 1849, Mr. Hanson drove out of Coles County, Illinois, with three ox teams, and a family carriage drawn by horses, headed for the new El Dorado of the Pacific. His ox teams were loaded with an assorted stock of goods of several thousand dollars' value which he thought would be suited to the requirement of the miners of '49. Emigrants of that day rendezvoused at Independence, Missouri, where they formed themselves into companies consisting generally of thirty or forty teams, which were called trains, each train electing a captain, whose duty it was to take general rule and direction of all matters connected with the interests of the company, and to facilitate as much as possible their journey to the land of gold and anticipated fortunes. The train with which Mr. Hanson cast his lot consisted of about one hundred persons, having only three women, Mrs. George AL Hanson, his daughter Mrs. Sidney Linder, and Mrs. John Armstrong-and about one dozen children, with an aggregate of some thirty five wagons and teams, and a few extra oxen and milch cows, which were driven in front of the train of wagons that followed at specified distances apart as regulated by the captain. John G. Allender, who after his arrival at California became a son in law of Mr. Hanson, was duly elected captain of this train. Owing to his experience with teams, his peculiar social qualities and unrivaled memory of past events, he became very popular and never failed to interest and entertain his company around the camp fires. The objects the emigrants had in thus traveling in companies was protection against hostile and predatory Indians, and mutual assistance when difficulties had to be met and overcome. We will not attempt to follow Mr. Hanson across the Rocky Mountains, the burning desert sands, and over the lofty Sierras, and relate the thrilling incidents of that early emigration, or portray the 'trying vicissitudes that so frequently beset his path. Suffice it to say that after untold trials, hardships and suffering he arrived at Yuba City, Sutter County, in the month of November, 1849, in destitute circumstances, having lost and left everything in the mountain fastnesses and snows of the Sierras. At Yuba City he, for a short time, kept a hotel; then built a ferry boat, connecting Yuba City and Marysville across the Feather River. Within two or three years he built a bridge across the river at a cost of $30,000, which was carried away by the floods a few years thereafter. He then sold an interest in his toll franchise to John C. Fall, of Marysville, and together they built, at a very heavy cost, another bridge. This was very valuable property, the receipts of toll being from $75 to $150 per diem. A few years after this, by an Act of the Legislature, the authorities of the county were authorized to erect a free bridge, in the face of the franchise held by Mr. Hanson, which was granted him for a period of twenty years, guaranteeing him protection of the same. Politically Mr. Hanson had ever been an old line Whig, and when the Republican party came into existence, and held its National Convention in 1856, at Philadelphia, at which John C. Fremont was nominated for President, Mr. Hanson attended that body as a delegate from California. At that convention Mr. Hanson paid the lamented Lincoln a tribute of respect by putting his name before that body as a candidate for Vice President, at the same time addressing a pleasant compliment towards him. The following National Convention of that party having nominated Mr. Lincoln for President, Mr. Hanson was a warm and active supporter of that ticket. He made his influence felt upon the stump and in the columns of political papers. Mr. Hanson was a very effective, ready debater, and clear and forcible writer. But few men of his day were better read in general politics, and who more clearly understood the system and ideas of our form of government. After Mr. Lincoln's election Mr. Hanson was notified by that distinguished gentleman that he was wanted to discharge the duties of some governmental office on this coast by the incoming administration. Notwithstanding his repeated assertions to the President that he was not desirous of official position, Mr. Lincoln, unsolicited, sent him a commission as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern District of California, which office he entered upon and discharged the duties of during that administration. After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln Mr. Hanson retired to private life again, and although his accumulated years admonished him to forsake the pursuits of active life, his restless spirit and indomitable energy induced him to again resume business. He then, in company with his youngest son, David M., a lawyer, went into the newspaper business, publishing the Clear Lake Sentinel, Sutter County Sentinel, Marysville Evening Telegraph, Daily Appeal, and finally the Gilroy Advocate, which publication ended his long and active career in business. Mr. Hanson was among the first white men who penetrated the Coast Range Mountains as far as Clear Lake. Having a large family of sons, most of whom had grown to man's estate, he was desirous of finding homes for them and settling them down to some steady pursuit. In 1853 or 1854, it was, that Mr. Hanson came in sight of the waters of Clear Lake, and after thoroughly prospecting the country, concluded that this was the very place he was looking for to find homes for his boys. He first settled them at Upper Lake, on Middle Creek and its vicinity, stocking their several places with horses, cattle, and hogs. While en route to the lake over the pathless mountains just west of Wilbers Sulphur Springs, one evening, Mr. Hanson shut and killed an enormous grizzly bear. This was near the head of what has ever since been known as " Grizzly Canon," through which an excellent county road now passes, and from which incident that canon and road derives the name of "Grizzly Canon." In those early times large game was very abundant in this country. The pioneers could at all hours of the night hear the savage snarling and deep growling of the grizzly, with the piercing scream of the panther or California lion. The Hanson boys have seen as many as fifty deer in a drove, hundreds of elk in a band, and the killing of grizzly bears and California lions was of such common occurrence as to attract no attention whatever. Since the year 1854, Mr. Hanson's sons have lived on and in the vicinity of Clear Lake, and this county has had for him in consequence thereof, all the attractions of a home. His visits hither, when not permanently settled, were of yearly occurrence until 1874. After he had retired from business, he came to Lake County, the scene of his many early and exciting adventures, to live among his children and grand children, and in its salubrious climate pass the few remaining days of his life. In 1877, the great affliction of his life in the shape of physical infirmity befell him. He lost his eyesight and became almost absolutely blind from cataract. This to him was an inconsolable bereavement, as it deprived him of the ability to read and write, in which occupations he had taken his greatest pleasure. This affliction so worked and wore upon him that his health rapidly began to decline. He became helpless, and that fact so embarrassed him that life almost became a burden. His spirit of independence that had been a characteristic with him, and sustained him throughout his long life, was now utterly crushed, and he regarded his fast approaching dissolution with calm, Christian resignation. He had been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a respected member of the Masonic fraternity for more than fifty years, and we might safely say that no man ever lived more in consistence with his religious professions and fraternal tenets than did George M. Hanson for a half century of time. In July, 1879, he was taken with pneumonia which baffled the skill of his physicians. In a very few days it was evident that his career on earth must end. His children and grand children were quickly summoned to attend that awful and solemn event. He was at the house of one of his sons in Long Valley, surrounded by weeping relatives and friends, and at about 9 o'clock P. A. on the 1st day of August, amid the heart sobs of his devoted children and grand children, the spirit of this good old man went back to the God who sent it to earth.

From:
History of Napa and Lake Counties, California
Slocum, Bowen & Co., Publishers
San Francisco, California 1881


Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

NAVIGATION

Lake County, CA
Biographies

Online
Biographies

New York
Histories

New York
Biographies

Maine
Histories

Pennsylvania
Histories

Pennsylvania
Biographies

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium

Family Tree Maker 2012